Mr. Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan

A book review

My love: ♥♥♥♥○

I’ve had my eyes on this book for a while. And it was quite the refreshment after going through Helprin’s Winter’s Tale. I enjoyed it from the beginning. The voice was nice and quirky with familiar references for geeky people like me. This is a tradition against technology book, the secondary theme I won’t give it away or it will ruin the mystery. The characters were fun to read and it reminded me of those books I used to read when I was a kid where all the characters helped each other and came together to accomplish a mission.

Clay is your typical designer who needs a job because they all do. A job is something precious after a depression, even if that job involves staying up all night running a bookstore which is only visited by very strange fellows. This tickles Clay’s curiosity and he is set up to figure things out. Who are these people? What is in those books? It started as a hobby to survive the dreadful hours of the night without going insane. But it became much more.

At the beginning of the book there is a particular line that will remain forever in me, which is much to say about books that are not meant to be deep:

“Each big idea like that is an operating system upgrade,”she says, smiling. “Writers are responsible for some of it. They say Shakespeare invented the internal monologue.”

It got me thinking, our reality has been imagined before it happened. I still remember “The Time Machine” by H. G. Wells with all their tablets during a school trip. Back then that was just imagination. Now, it’s becoming a reality, where all the kids have some sort of communication device. The same goes for society, in a way, invented and evolved by big ideas from creative minds which often turn out to be writers imagining a different kind of world. More than the whole other subject, I think this idea was the most profound one in this book. Because it doesn't have the kind of prose I love but yet captured me in enjoyment, 4 out of 5 hearts.

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